Author Archive

City High Students Recognized as Finalists for National NPR and NYTimes Podcast Awards

This week, four City High School students were named as finalists in The New York Times Student Podcast Contest. The students, listed below, created their podcasts in Sarah Bromer’s Radio Production class, where students learn how to write, record, edit, and produce their own radio stories. The class publishes a monthly podcast called “City High Radio.” Stay posted—The New York Times will be announcing the winners soon!

Finalist Iman Flenory wrote a compelling story about school shootings, and the daily fear that grips many students and teachers. Listen here:

Finalists Cougar Miller and Julia Ortiz investigated Gen Z attitudes toward climate change. Check out their story here:

Finalist Alex Soto’s piece, titled “What Is the Most Beautiful Sound?” is, well, simply beautiful. Listen here:

Last month, a longer version of Alex’s piece was selected as a finalist in the NPR Student Podcast Challenge. Alex was one of 15 finalists chosen from a field of more than 2,000 entries nationwide. You can read about Alex and the other finalists here .

Our local NPR station, KUAZ, featured Alex’s story in a recent episode of The Buzz This piece profiles Alex and two other award-winning City High journalists, Samantha Zazueta and Paloma Martinez, as well as teacher Sarah Bromer.

To hear more stories from City High Radio, or to subscribe to our podcast, simply search for “City High Radio” on iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also listen to all of City High Radio’s stories here, on SoundCloud:

CITY Center Announces New School Leadership

It is with excitement that we announce the new administrative team for the three CITY Center for Collaborative Learning schools. Our new leaders are an extraordinary group of educators who are committed to the mission and vision of our schools and our organization and will also use their experience and wisdom to push our thinking and enrich our programs.

Our leadership team will be prioritizing student and staff safety this year as we figure out the best ways to create authentic and engaging learning during an ongoing pandemic.  We will also be furthering and improving all of our diversity, equity, and inclusion policies and procedures; our competency-based learning; our social-emotional supports; and our project-based learning.  Our schools will also be continuing to develop culturally-sustaining pedagogies to address racial inequalities and systemic racism, and to create more authentic and engaging learning for all of our students

Daniel J. Morales II is the new Principal of City High School. Daniel received his M. Ed from the U of A and is currently completing his U of A  Ph D.  He has previously served as Principal of Chicanos Por La Causa – Envision High School, Vice Principal at Desert Sky Community School Elementary, and as Data Instruction Coach and Lead English Language Arts Teacher at Chicanos Por La Causa- Toltecalli High School.  Daniel, his wife Diana, and their two children are moving back to Tucson after a year in New York City.

Marisol Badilla is the new Dean of Students at City High School.  Marisol received a Masters of Science in Mexican American Studies from the U of A in 2009 and will begin working toward her Ph D in Education there this fall.  She has been a social studies, reading, and Spanish teacher at City High where she also developed and directed the Restorative Practices program. Marisol has integrated her social justice and antiracist pedagogies in all of her teaching and community building. Marisol has been a coach of the Critical Friends Group, the co-chair of the family association, and a school board member.

Lin Lucas is starting as Co-Principal of Paulo Freire Freedom School – University.  Lin graduated with a degree in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education from Western Washington University.  Lin has taught Humanities at PFFSU since 2018 and quickly established himself as a teacher-leader at that school. Lin completed the Race and Equity Facilitation Training from the Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative.  Lin is a long-time educator who has put his scholarship, skills, and commitment to equity to work in a variety of educational and arts organizations. In addition to being a passionate educator, Lin is a visual artist, dancer, and choreographer.

Carman Ryken is also starting as the Co-Principal of Paulo Freire Freedom School -University.  Carman earned a degree in French and Math from Mills College.  Carman began teaching math at PFFSU in 2012 and has been a leader in project-based learning and competency-based learning during her tenure.  Carman is a skilled facilitator who has served as a Critical Friends Group coach and leader of the math department. Carman has presented on social justice in math and project-based learning in math at academic conferences.  She is passionate about math and is committed to the success of all learners.

JoAnn Groh is returning to the role of Principal of Paulo Freire Freedom School – Downtown after a year of leading the professional learning outreach center.  JoAnn is a founder of Paulo Freire Freedom Schools and has been a leader of our organization since its inception.  JoAnn is an expert in project-based learning who conducts trainings across the country as a facilitator for PBLWorks.  She is a nationally recognized educational thinker and innovator who has served as a facilitator for SRI’s Critical Friendship model for professional learning communities.

Misa Gonzales is starting the Principal Apprenticeship pilot program at PFFSD.  Misa received a degree in Secondary Education Extended English from the U of A. Misa has been teaching English and Language Arts at Paulo Freire Freedom School – Downtown since 2017. She is the 2013 winner of the ConnectED Champion of Change award. Misa has served on the Teaching and Learning Committee, as a Critical Friends Group coach, and as a CBL and Empower specialist.  Misa embodies what it means to be a teacher leader in our organization, and she is excited to take on this new level of leadership.

Patrick Kelly is also starting the Principal Apprenticeship pilot program at PFFSD.  Patrick has been teaching English and Language Arts at PFFSD since 2016.  Patrick is an expert in project-based learning and has designed and implemented multiple gold-standard interdisciplinary projects.  Patrick has been head basketball coach for City High, and he has also been a Critical Friends Group coach, drama teacher, and member of the competency-based learning development team.  Patrick has forged powerful relationships in the community which have increased student engagement and success, earning him the 2020 Ray Davies Educator of the Year award at the Jewish History Museum and Holocaust Memorial Center.

Protests, Activism, Justice, and Equity- Director’s Words

The murder of George Floyd last week by a Minneapolis police officer is not just the result of one single police officer, it is the result of the ongoing, deep-seated racism in our country.

The images swirling on our tv’s and through our social media feeds this past week show a devastatingly aggressive militarized police force. Peaceful protests around the country are being met with tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets. The violent images are difficult to watch, but the understanding that they reflect an ongoing unwillingness of our nation to fully address and solve the institutionalized racism that perpetuates harm and death on black bodies is what is most traumatizing. The message is clear and it is urgent: Black Lives Matter.

As an organization that aspires to serve our students to work toward freedom and liberation, it is an inspiration to see Black youth across the county draw on a long history of resistance to oppression as they lead these protests. Their rage is empowering and just. 

We cannot remain neutral about racism. Our three schools will continue to support our community in the fight against racism, and we will continue to develop anti-racist policies and culturally sustaining pedagogies to create anti-racist schools that support and develop teachers, staff, and students to have a just and equitable understanding of what it means to fight for our shared humanity, especially for those who are most vulnerable. Four of the seven leadership hires for next year at our schools are BIPOC. Our diversity, equity, and inclusion work continues to be an urgent priority. Our staff are reading anti-racists texts such as White Fragility by Robin Diangelo and How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi and are having hard conversations about our own bias and the work we must continue to do to support our BIPOC students and staff. Later this month we are sending a cohort of teachers and administrators to an online conference on how to dismantle white supremacy in schools. Our schools have a long way to go, but we are committed to doing the difficult work of dismantling white supremacy.

If you are looking for texts to inform your understanding of racism in our country, White Fragility is a great place for white people to start. Ibram X. Kendi also has a list of antiracists texts you can access here. Reading these books and discussing them with your friends and family is a necessary step to understanding the long history of racism in our country and how white people perpetuate it. 

The Black Lives Matter website has a variety of useful and informative resources. 

Here is a list of 15 social justice organizations to consider supporting. 

It has been a heartbreaking and exhausting week. For those of you who have participated in protests, please continue to check in with your support system and to take good care of yourselves. For those of you who are in despair or isolated, reach out to someone you love and ask for support. You can always start with your school advisor. 

To our Black students and staff: we see you. You matter. Black Lives Matter. We are committed to supporting you. 

City High School Radio Student’s Audio Diaries

During our school’s closure, City High Radio students have been recording audio diaries about their lives in quarantine. Many of the diaries have aired on KXCI’s 30 Minutes show. To hear all the latest stories from City High Radio, subscribe to our podcast, or follow the diaries here, on Soundcloud:


2019-2020 VOICES Survey! Complete & be entered to win a $25 Trader Joe’s gift card!

VOICES End of Year Surveys!

If you haven’t already, please take a few minutes to complete these brief surveys giving us your valuable feedback about our extended-day programming.

There is one survey for students HERE and one survey for parents/guardians HERE.

Completed surveys are entered to win a $25 Trader Joe’s gift card! One entry per student and parent each. The drawing will be on Friday, May 29th.

Thanks, Tom

21st Century Community Learning Center Grant

City High School is once again applying for the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant! This federal funding has supported our VOICES extended day programming for the last ten years, bringing free academic & enrichment classes to our students, regular family engagement & information nights, support for our overnight field trips, and creates community partnerships that provide free workshop opportunities for all of our students. 


Check Out These Books!

JoAnn has curated an awesome selection of books from our schools’ library that you can check out! In order to check out a book (or two) to read, please follow these steps:
1) Peruse THIS LIST of excellent books and choose one or two that you would like to read. Write down the WHOLE NAME OF THE BOOK (you’ll need it for the next step).
2) Fill out THIS SURVEY to reserve your book(s)!
3) Wait to receive an email that says “CCCL Library Books Are Ready for Pick-up!”
4) After you get that email, come on down to the food distribution site and pick up your book(s)! If neither you nor someone else in your household is able to come pick up the book(s), please send an email to telling him so. We’ll figure out how to get it to you.
Food Distribution Site:
300 E. University Blvd.
Tucson, AZ 85705

UPDATE: CITY CCL Food Distribution Plan

From this point on, meals will be distributed only Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, from 8am – 10am. We will hand out Monday and Tuesday’s meals on Monday (2 breakfasts & 2 lunches), Wednesday and Thursday’s meals on Wednesday (2 breakfasts & 2 lunches), and Friday will be breakfast and lunch for Friday.
This schedule will also hold true for picking up/dropping off any non-food things. If you need to pick up or drop off something outside of these times, please coordinate with your student’s advisor.

Here are details about the CCCL food distribution plan

• Food distribution will take place from the Paulo Freire Freedom School – University campus. Enter the alley (N Herbert Ave.) directly east of the school from University Blvd. See the map below for details.
• Parents/guardians should stay in their cars and be ready with student’s/students’ last name, number of breakfasts, and number of lunches they’ll need.
• Families do not need to worry about any financial transactions – if they need food for their children, they should come.
• If families are unable to get to our school during those distribution hours, they should email Seth ( AND Chuy (
AND go to one of the other food distribution sites listed in THIS ARTICLE, if possible.
Donations to Support Food Distribution
If you are able to donate to the CCCL website, we will use these funds to cover the costs of providing food to all families free of charge during the school closure.
1. Go to this link:
2. Select your donation amount. If you don’t see the amount you want to donate, select “Other.”
3. Next, choose “Other” for the purpose.
4. Fill out the information on the form at the bottom of the page.
5. When you see “AMBASSADOR,” type in “Meals.” That way, we will know which donations were earmarked for Meals and can apply those funds to families who need our support.

Letter from Co-Director Tim Grivois-Shah

Dear Families and Students,

This week’s learning focus is for advisors to connect with each and every student and to support our families as best as possible. Our advisors will continue to reach out to families and students while we are closed, and our hope is that our advisories continue to provide key social, emotional, and practical support for as long as our building remains closed.
Beginning next week, starting Monday, March 30th, students should plan on having 30 minutes of reading, 30 minutes of writing, and 30 minutes of math. Students, you will access your assignments through Google Classroom, and families, you can check on grades and missing work via Empower.
The following week, starting Monday, April 6th, students will also have an additional inquiry project. This project will incorporate science and social studies, and will also include Spanish extension activities for students in a Spanish class. Teachers will communicate expectations for inquiry assignments by the end of next week.
Finally, we are hoping to offer some level of instruction in our elective classes, and we will share more when that plan is finalized.
Please know that we are working hard to ensure that all students have access to the internet. If you know of or need access to laptops or to the internet, please contact me or your student’s advisor right away.
Again, for next week, English and Math teachers will contact your student via Google Classroom to communicate expectations for 30 minutes of math, reading, and writing.
I am grateful for all the many ways staff and families are working together to stay connected and to make remote learning meaningful and successful for our Narwhals while we must remain physically apart. And, I’m looking forward to seeing us all again when it is safe to do so. In the meantime, let’s learn, connect, and grow.


Narwhal Basketball Game Schedule

Here are the upcoming dates and times for our Narwhal Basketball Team games! All games are played at Lohse YMCA downtown.

  • Friday, March 20, 2020 @ 7:00 pm vs ACE
  • Friday, March 27, 2020 @ 9:00 pm vs Tucson Prep
  • Friday, April 3, 2020 @ 7:00 pm vs Youthworks
  • Friday, April 3, 2020 @ 8:00 pm vs Alta Vista
  • Friday, April 10, 2020 @ 9:00 pm vs Eastpointe